If you spend a few hours this fall properly cleaning up your lawn and garden, you’ll be rewarded with a prettier landscape this winter and have a head start on next season’s gardens.
Vegetable Garden Clean-up
Remove all dead or spent vegetable plants, imperfect or unripe fruits and vegetables. Shred and compost any plants or vegetables that aren’t diseased, being sure to cover the plants and fruits with a layer of compost or soil.
Remove any large weeds that you didn’t get to earlier in the season. Most can be composted, but be careful not to add a lot of weed seeds to your compost pile.
If your vegetable garden soil has become compacted, add compost and till the top 6 to 8 inches to mix the compost into the soil. If you’re working to improve clay soil, now is a good time to also add some sand to the soil.
Cover the vegetable garden soil with a layer of shredded dry leaves and grass clippings. This will prevent erosion, suppress late season weeds, and add to the garden soil’s nutrient level. A mixture of grass clippings and shredded leaves is better than using either one alone the mix will prevent the leave from blowing away and keep the grass clippings from matting. And, your garden will just plain look better than a big rectangle of soil with or without dead plants.
Tomato Cages, Plant Stakes, Trellises, and Decorations
Remove all of these that are portable and check to see if any need to be repaired or repainted. Store these in a shed or garage so they’ll last longer and, your landscape will look better.
Flower Garden Clean-up
Remove all dead or fading flower plants and compost as much of them as possible. You may want to avoid adding a lot of flower seeds to your compost, as some will survive the winter and may show up where you don’t want them next year.
Remove any big weeds that you missed earlier in the season, and add a layer of shredded leaves and grass clippings to the flower beds. This mulch layer will suppress late germinating weeds, and will also help to prevent erosion.
Avoid any unnecessary pruning of woody ornamental plants, as pruning always encourages new growth which you don’t want at this time of the year.
Clear twigs and any other debris from the lawn before the leaves start to fall. For your final mowing or two (it’s always difficult to know when you’re mowing for the last time in a season) you can adjust your lawn mower to cut the grass a little shorter than you do during the summer. This will make leaf clean-up a lot easier. Fall is also a great time to overseed the lawn and give the turf a final feeding.